The earliest Hatter found so far is Frances Hatter b.1735, he was originally from the West coast of Africa. Our largest DNA concentration is from Benin/Togo. Frances Hatter freed after the death of John and Elizabeth Ariss, along with Charlotte and Sarah. All slaves of this 1700 group maintain the name of Hatter Slaves. The first recorded “Hatter” to arrive in this country was Benjamin Hatter; a fleeing Huguenot from France. He arrived in Virginia 1702.
England’s King William in an effort to repay his friends (Huguenots) who had supported his war efforts paid for their passage to the Virginia colonies. Most came as skilled artisans and tradesmen and master craftsmen but with little else. Once they arrived in the new world the governor of Virginia granted them 50 acres each and offered support to help them get established.
Records show that one of the four ships that arrived that year carried the Benj Hatter family. It wasn’t long before they became acclimated to the weather, customs and began to increase in property, family members and their standing in the communities in Nelson and Albemarle counties.
One of the traditional customs of that time period was to buy captured and enslaved people to work the land and service the households. Although the Hatters had at one time been victims of an unjust persecution in France; they appeared to respond to the issue of enslaving others with little or no trouble of conscience.
Toward the mid 1700’s a number of Hatters began to migrate farther west toward what is now known as Kentucky. The first acquired land had been worked hard and was yielding less and less each year, so this move was necessary. It wasn’t until later that century that the rotation of crops was introduced.
The older Hatters would remain in the Nelson and Albemarle County homes taken care of by a limited number of enslaved persons but the majority were taken to the new lands or sold to help pay for the new frontier.
We found that Charlotte by the time she was freed in 1803 she had four sons John, Reuben, George, and James. James and Reuben had been bounded out to Samuel Walter Washington, who in turn reluctantly sold Reuben to Christian Blackburn, who sent him and his wife Elizabeth after manumitting both to Liberia. click here for more on them in Liberia. Reuben Hatter
James was a jack of all trades and ensured his position by being efficient and hard working. He jumped the broom with Matilda and they had numerous child but we can only speak on George b. 1818 and Franklin b 1820.